Utopia in the City


Someday, Brooklyn will be "a place where neighbors sit down to share meals several times a week, where children roam freely from home to home, and where grown-ups can hang out in a communal living room." Okay, maybe not all of it, but at least the swath in Fort Greene selected to become Brooklyn Cohousing, reports the NY Times. As we reported at the end of October, the group of 14 member households, who've bought in at $20,000 to $40,000, and 25 associate households, who paid $500 and attend regular meetings, decided to build their paradise at the former St. Michael's church property, an unfinished 40-condo project that had been known as Carlton Mews. "The group hasn’t settled on a project name yet, but it plans to build more modest apartments than the original developers intended and to fill them with families whose lives revolve around the courtyard and 6,000 square feet of common space where residents can cook together, play together, do woodworking or take an art class together," they write. Folks will have to get along here, with 40 families making decisions that affect everyone (size of group dining room or common guest rooms, finishes in private kitchens) by consensus. The economy's downward spiral may have given the project a boost, even though the units, from studios to four-bedrooms (smaller than average, since there's shared common space), will sell for "market rate." "A developer who can sell an entire project to a single entity runs a lower risk than one who has to sell individual units. Banks may also appreciate that while a developer may have trouble selling unbuilt condos, the cohousing group expects to sell almost all of the project before construction begins." But the project is admittedly a financial risk. “You’re not buying an apartment,” said one of the founding members, Alex Marshall. “You’re becoming a legal member of a community and sharing in the costs and risks of building it.”
A Village Down the Block [NY Times]

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